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Red-Hot Robbie

Robinson Cano is probably playing the best baseball of his career so far this year in 2012. In fact, he’s currently the hottest player in the majors. Night after night, Cano is collecting hit after hit. When will AL pitchers decide to just not pitch to him? It seems as if Cano can handle any pitch in any part of the zone, which makes him the Yankees’ most dangerous player. Since June 24, Cano has been on a tear. He’s accumulated a 19-game hit streak and counting. Over that span, Cano is 31-for-75 (.413) with six homers and 20 RBI. The following chart, courtesy of Mark Simon at ESPN Stats and Info, displays Cano’s hits during his streak.

The chart clearly shows Cano’s coverage of the plate. From the inner third, middle to outer third, Cano is doing damage everywhere. His only zone where he hasn’t had much success is in the area of low and away (1-for-5), probably a product of left handed pitchers throwing sliders hoping Cano will chase. On the season, Cano is hitting .321, good for sixth in the American League. His 111 hits are third in the AL, behind Derek Jeter (115) and Miguel Cabrera (118). Cano is well on pace to have a career year. In 2011, he hit .302 with 28 homers and 118 RBI in 159 games. This year, Cano already has 21 homers and 55 RBI through 89 games.

Imagine if Cano was hitting his normal average with runners in scoring position this year? His numbers would surely be in the discussion for the Triple Crown. This year, Cano is hitting .225 with three homers and 28 RBI with RISP. In 2011, he hit .318 with eight homers and 91 runs driven in. Like the team, Cano’s production with the bases loaded is down from last year. Cano is hitting .133 with nine RBIs with the bases juiced compared to .444 with 27 RBIs last year. Cano’s numbers are that much more impressive this year, considering his shortcomings with RISP and bases loaded situations.

Should Cano get a hit tonight against left-hander Brett Cecil, he would become the first Yankee since Derek Jeter in 2007 with a 20-game hit-streak. In his career against Cecil, Cano is 6-for-22 (.273) with a home run and three RBIs. Of course, the longest hit streak in Yankee history, and MLB history, is Joe DiMaggio, when he hit in 56 straight games in 1941. The streak began on May 15 and ended, ironically, today on July 17. Cano hopes he can continue his own streak tonight against the Blue Jays at 7:05 in the Bronx.

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